Great Britain and Ireland produced a storming comeback during Friday’s fourballs at the Seve Trophy, but two short missed putts on the final green of the last match kept them from pulling level.
Europe now lead the match 5.5 to 4.5 after beginning the day two points clear.
Friday’s action at France’s Saint-Nom-La-Breteche Golf Club was dramatic, as both teams played fantastic golf and made crucial errors.
After Europe took control on the front nine to lead in three of five matches, Great Britain and Ireland skipper Sam Torrance’s men finally produced their best golf on the back nine to take three of the five points on offer.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Dutchman Joost Luiten threw away a three-hole lead down the stretch against Tommy Fleetwood and Chris Wood, but the English pairing cracked on the final green with two attempts to halve the match.
“Fantastic, the golf that was played was beautiful. Jamie Donaldson was nine-under on his own and these two boys there [Fleetwood and Wood] were 3-down and four to play,” Torrance said. “Scott Jamieson was 1-down, two to play, we could easily have lost those two points, but we ended up winning one and losing one.”
As on the opening day, Great Britain and Ireland posted the first point when the English team of Paul Casey and Simon Khan improved on their half-point of Thursday by defeating Mikko Ilonen of Finland and Dane Thorbjorn Olesen 3-and-2.
Casey held the hot putter with four of the pair’s six birdies, while Ilonen failed to produce the same form that helped him and his partner to victory on Thursday with just one birdie on the day.
While that brought Great Britain and Ireland within a point of Jose Maria Olazabal’s men, they were quickly brought back down to earth by another masterclass of matchplay golf from Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano.
They ran into an off-form team of former British Open winner Paul Lawrie and fellow Scot Stephen Gallacher, who were only able to muster one birdie all day, crashing to a record-equaling defeat of 6-and-5.
Colsaerts, who was drafted in as a wild card by Olazabal for a sensational Ryder Cup victory last year at Medinah, drained four of the seven birdies while Fernandez-Castano was also on top form as they won in style for the second time in 24 hours.
Torrance’s decision to change his line-up and pair Welshman Jamie Donaldson with Marc Warren of Scotland paid spectacular dividends as they chalked up the next point with a 4-and-2 victory over veterans Thomas Bjorn of Denmark and Miguel Angel Jimenez of Spain.
Donaldson had a sizzling round with eight birdies and an eagle, including a streak of four birdies, an eagle and a birdie again at the 16th to clinch the match.
The Italian pairing of Francesco Molinari and Matteo Manassero, who halved their match on Thursday with a birdie at 18, were involved in another cliffhanger against England’s David Lynn and Scotland’s Scott Jamieson.
Jamieson birdied the 17th to tie the match and send the Italians into another tense finale, and it was the bearded Scot who nailed his birdie putt to snatch what was an unexpected victory.